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Best Time to Send Emails

Social media may be hot right now, but email marketing remains an effective medium for reaching out to customers, building relationships and generating sales. When doing email marketing, one of the most frequent question small business owners ask me is : “When is the best time to send emails?”

I looked at various in-house researches to see what our experts are saying with regards to the best time of day to sending emails, and here are the results of what some say:

1. Morning is a good time to send emails that require recipients to dig deeper into the email.

•9 am performed 15.63% better than 4 pm; 9 am performed 9.4% better than 12 pm; and 12 pm performed 6.9% better than 4 pm.
Not only does email reach its peak in the morning hours, consumers spend much more time per email episode (up to nearly 13 minutes on average) in the morning vs. just an average of 2 minutes per email episode late in the afternoon and evening. (Source: Messaging Behaviours, Preferences and Personas, ExactTarget)
In the morning, consumers tend to dive deeper into email, where in the afternoon they are consistently in-and-out of their inboxes. Perhaps marketers sending newsletters or pitches that require more consumer involvement should consider sending them earlier in the day, when the consumers are more likely to spend the necessary time. Also, marketers relying on promotions with a “quick and clear” call to action could not only survive, but thrive later in the day when consumers are in a quick-hit mode. (Source: Messaging Behaviours, Preferences and Personas, ExactTarget)
2. Late afternoon is the best time of the day

As for the best time of day for open and click rates, during the heaviest email volumes (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.), there’s a marked upward trend as time passes. That is, both open and click rates gradually increase: from a low of 2.6% at 8 a.m. to a high of 6.4% at 4 p.m. (down to 5.2% at 5 p.m.) in the case of click rates; and from a low of 21.5% at 8 a.m. to a high of 34.1% at 5 p.m., in the case of opens. (Source: Survey Study – Trends and Use of Email Analytics, eROI)

3. Best time to send depends on each individual recipient.

“When is the best time to send your email campaign?” The correct answer to this question is, “When the recipient is most likely to be in his or her inbox.” What if you could schedule your mailing and know that it was going to reach each recipient at the precise day and time he or she was most likely to be checking emails? Using past mailings as a baseline, eBags found that with individually-timed messages: Click-through rates grew 20 percent; Conversion rates grew 65 percent; Average value per order grew 45 percent; and Overall average revenue per recipient GREW 187 percent. (Source: Best Time to Send – When Recipients Are in the Inbox, Silverpop)

As the above studies show, there is no consensus out there as to the best time to send emails. Various studies have different results, and the only agreement among various studies is to conduct your own test.

Here are some ways you can do testing to determine the optimal time for sending your emails:

1. Experiment by sending your email at various time periods. For a period of time (one or two weeks), break down your list and send the subscribers the same email at different time periods. You first need to determine the number of time slots to be tested, and break down the list of subscribers equally for each time slot. Then send each group the same email — this is important to control for factors such as quality of subject line.

For example, you can break down your list and run tests of emails sent from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at 30 minutes increments. Divide them into equal groups. Check with your email vendor if segmenting your list this way as well as staggered delivery is do-able.

2. Create benchmark data on open patterns. If you are sending your emails basically at the same time, then you have no data comparing various times. However, one data that you may be able to look at is the opens per hour with time since send. After sending the email, look at what time do your recipients actually open your email. Do they open your email immediately upon receipt, 1 hour later or 8 hours later?

Check if your email vendor provides the option of showing how the message performed by hour after it was sent, which could give you an idea of open and click trends for your email products.
The key, really, is to test your list to see what is the best time for your subscribers to engage with your email. Remember, what works for others may not work for you.
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